When I decided to study aboad, I rode my bike over to the international programs office at UMass and said one thing; I want to leave my abroad experience fluent in Spanish. Having only met the minimal Spanish requirements for most programs, this was a tall order. My advisor suggested only one program--IFSA Peru.
After spending a summer in Guatemala working for a non-profit, I took off for Lima, where I would spend fall of 2017. The experience was organized wonderfully down to the homestay--I lived with an older Peruvian couple in the center of Miraflores that effectively became the grandparents I never had. Each day, I engaged in conversation in spanish from the moment I woke up to the time I went to bed, taking classes at the PUCP and learning to navigate a city twice the size of New York City on my own. I had the chance to travel and have AUTHENTIC cultural experiences in 6 different regions of Peru, and engaged in independent research projects at two nonprofits as part of my coursework. The grey city slowly but surely turned into my second home, with phrases like manyas, pituco, and chela flowing from my mouth as if I were a true peruvian by the time I left. I wouldn't trade it for anything--would highly recommend for anyone looking for a true study abroad. No hand-holding, no tourist traps, and a whole lot of hard work and fun.